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Kansas City Chiefs: Passing Attack Threat Alert Formula

Over the past few years fans have been tracking how potent a teams passing attack is by the teams quarterback rating.  The notion would seem to be that if the quarterback has a high passer rating then that teams passing attack is to be more feared.

But what about our own Matt Cassel and the Kansas City Chiefs?

Now, this is not an article about Matt Cassel's abilities.  This is an article about evaluating, assessing, and assigning a potential risk factor for a team's defense based on the potency of an opponents offensive passing game.  Matt Cassel and the Kansas City Chiefs just happen to be a perfect example of a team that has a quarterback with a high passer rating (98.4) yet does not necessarily strike panic in defensive secondaries.

Why is that?

Most fans understand that the quarterback passer rating is not the end all when evaluating a quarterback...let alone a passing attack in general.  The passer rating doesn't tell us if the quarterback works through his progression and distributes the ball well.  The rating doesn't tell us whether or not the offensive unit has a multitude of passing options or just a couple.

So what might be a more accurate reflection of a teams "Passing Attack Potency?"

It is the assertion of this article that a teams passing attack potency can be more accurately measured by including:

  1. The quarterback passer rating.
  2. The teams average number of 5+ targets each game.

The Quarterback Passer Rating

Most fans already understand the quarterback passer rating so I won't go into that in much detail.  The quarterback passer rating includes completion percentage, average yards per attempt, percentage of touchdown passes, and percentage of interceptions.

The quarterback passer rating is basically a measure of how efficient and consistent a quarterback can be with a little added scoring ability.

The Number Of 5+ Targets

A "target" is a receiver that has been targeted by a quarterback with a throw.  A receiver that is targeted 5 or more times in a single game is a 5+ target in that particular game.

A couple of factors that play a part in a teams passing potency is the quality of it's receivers and the ability of the quarterback to work through his progressions and distribute the ball to those quality receivers.  If a team has a quarterback that does not work through his progressions well then that might show up in the number of receivers that have been 5+ targets.  Additionally, if a team has only one real receiving threat on their team...then this also might show up in the number of 5+ targets a team has each game.

Above is the chart for the number of 5+ targets the Indianapolis Colts have had over the past 13 weeks.  As you can see, Peyton Manning has around four to five 5+ targets every game.  This possibly gives us a little insight into the Colts passing potency by suggesting that A) Peyton can distribute the ball around pretty well B) The Colts have some quality receivers to be able to have four to five 5+ targets every game.

The Colts average 5+ targets per game is 4.08 and Peyton Manning's QB rating is 91.2.

The Chiefs on the other hand have a quarterback that has a passer rating of 98.4 but when it comes to 5+ targets the Chiefs only average 2.08 per game.  Those two numbers tell us that Matt Cassel is having a consistent and relatively mistake free year but when it comes to Matt working through his progression and finding a number of quality receivers open...the Chiefs are less of a threat.

Most every fan in Kansas City will attest to the fact that the Chiefs need to upgrade the receiving core.  Even though it is much better than 2009 it still has room for upgrade.  Some Chief fans can also back up the notion that Matt Cassel sometimes does not work through his progressions as frequently as the fans would like.  Again, this is not a article about Matt Cassel but an assertion that the 5+ targets notion might help quantify, is some small way, issues that quarterbacks and receivers might have (like Matt and the quality of the KC receiving core).

How do we come up with the Passing Attack Threat Alert?

We can come up with passing attack threat alert by taking the QB passer rating and converting it to a scaled score and doing the same with the 5+ target average.  This scaled score is then added together to create the "passing potency" or the degree of passing attack threat the team posses.

Team Threat Levels:

The Indianapolis Colts have an average 5+ target score of 4.08 and a QB passer rating of 91.2.  That would come out to a 9 on the scale (5+4=9) and rank as SEVERE on the passing attack threat alert.

The New Orleans Saints are also a 9 or SEVERE, by the way.

The Kansas City Chiefs rate as GUARDED on the passing attack threat alert.  Matt Cassel has a passer rating of 98.4 and KC averages 2.08 5+ targets a game.


So what is the level of alert for the San Diego Chargers?  The next Kansas City opponent.

The San Diego Chargers have had a 5+ target average of 2.58 per game and a quarterback rating of 102.5.  That would give us a potency rank of 7, or ELEVATED. 

One added note.  If Vincent Jackson plays this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs then the number of 5+ targets could potentially be higher.  If he does play then the passing attack alert might have to be moved to HIGH. 

Tell me what you think.




Click On " Bewsaf Past Posts " for more past articles

*Kansas City Chiefs O-Line Spotlight: Ryan Lilja *KC Chiefs vs Chargers II: Analyzing San Diego's Football Tendencies

*Chiefs vs Broncos II: Breaking Down The O-Line Tape


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